Shell-shocked staff at Bristol Aquarium thought they were seeing double when they discovered Herman, their giant tropical hermit crab, apparently sharing his display with an identical twin.
On closer inspection it became clear the ‘twin’ was in fact a rare complete moult.
The delicate moult is an exact replica of Herman including each leg, mouth parts and even eye stalks. Staff now plan to put the empty ‘shellsuit’ on display inside a protective case in their Learning Lab.
Bristol Aquarium’s Liv Orchart said: “It was a truly surreal sight. When I arrived Herman was sitting on top of the moult and it was hard to tell which was which.
“The moult had retained the crustacean’s normal colour while the new-look Herman is prawn pink and will stay that way until his new outer covering begins to harden.
“Moulting is an entirely natural process and one of the benefits is that he is now quite a lot bigger which means he fits much better in to the rather roomy shell he has been living in for the past couple of years,” she added.
Hermit crabs use their strong stomach muscles to keep themselves safe inside their shell homes. They have two sets of legs that they extend outside their shell for walking and two pairs of legs tucked away inside that they use to move their body around inside their shell.
All hermit crabs are ‘right-handed’ as their right claws are larger and usually a different shape from their left claws. They use the large right claw for protection and holding food, and the small left claw for eating.
For more information, to arrange interviews, picture and filming opportunities please contact David Waines or Liv Orchart on 0117 929 8929.